Yukon road cyclists got a change of scenery over the weekend, some of it in Skagway, some of it in B.C.
Cyclists from Yukon and Alaska took part in the inaugural Tour de Skagway, a three-race, two-day event hosted by the U Kon Echelon Cycling Club.
“We had a lot of youth participation, which is my goal,” said U Kon Echelon director Trena Irving. “But I love to see those fast guys out because the younger kids look up to them. So I make sure to thank them and say, ‘Thank you for coming out because that’s what those young guys want to be like, they aspire to be like you. You show them how to do it.’”
The Skagway Hill Climb, a grueling 20-kilometre ride from just outside downtown Skagway up 1,000 metres in altitude to the White Pass summit, has been held annually for years. This year it was sandwiched between a road race and a time trial. The road race ran 81 kilometres from Fraser, B.C. to the B.C.-Yukon border and back, for the expert riders. (Sport and youth riders did just one way.)
RELATED:See full results here.
Sunday’s time trial went from the summit to Canada Customs in Fraser and back, for experts, and one way for sport and youth.
“It was excellent,” said Whitehorse’s Ian Parker. “It was great to ride on some different terrains and different roads, to see some of the Skagway folks out.”
Parker topped the inaugural tour with top times in the road race and hill climb, taking the expert men’s crown.
Skagway’s Spenser Morgan placed second and Whitehorse’s Stephen Ball third in the expert men tour.
“I think it’s good they are organizing races in different areas,” said Ball. “They had the one in Haines Junction (the previous weekend) and now three in Skagway. It’s a good change ... It’s good having different races.”
Morgan placed second in the hill climb and first in the 21-kilometre time trial. He placed ninth in the road race after getting tangled up with U23 tour winner Shea Hoffman, who had to withdraw from the race due to damage to his bike.
Morgan at first headed back to the start line but then decided to tough it out and keep going.
“Spenser Morgan had a bad crash, his bike was banged up, he was banged up,” said Parker. “He started heading back towards home (and then turned around) and finished it. He said, ‘I didn’t want to tell my daughter I quit.’ I thought that was great.”
“He said, ‘I’m not a quitter, I’m going to finish the race,’” said Irving, who won the expert women division. “Spenser’s bike was pretty messed up, but good enough to still ride. He ended up heading back but turned around and caught me within half an hour and blasted past me.”
Yukon’s David Jackson placed first in under-17 boys for the tour; Jodi Cox first in sport women ahead of Simi Morrison; Johna Irving-Staley came first for under-six boys; Ava Irving-Staley was first for under-13 girls.
Marsh Lake’s Cauis Taggart-Cox placed first in only one event, but the 10-minutes he beat his brothers by in the road race was enough to take first in the tour for under-13 boys. Micah Taggart-Cox came second and Lucas Taggart-Cox third.
“Lucas was seven last year and tried the (hill) climb and made it as far as the bridge,” said Parker. “This year, at eight, he completed the climb ... he was so stoked, he had a big smile on his face. To me, that’s why you do stuff like this.”
Irving is holding the Yukon High School Bike Race - a mountain bike race - at the Takhini Hot Springs on Wednesday. It will be followed by a U Kon Echelon race open to the public from the Yukon Wildlife Preserve to the North Klondike Highway and back, beginning at 6 p.m.
“I’m glad someone is keeping road racing alive in Yukon right now,” said Parker. “Mountain biking is on a huge upswing, and that’s great, everyone is stoked on that. But there’s a smaller, hardy group keeping the road scene going, and Trena has a lot to do with that.”
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